Shutdown Update: All Sides Remain Far Apart in Negotiations

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The partial Federal government shutdown is expected to continue into the weekend and likely beyond as both Democrats and Republicans remained far apart in negotiations on a new spending bill after meeting today but achieving no discernible progress.

President Trump met with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., in the White House Situation Room to discuss ending the partial government shutdown that hit its fourteenth day. Trump continued his demands to include funding for a border wall in the spending bill, even sending a letter to Congress with a list of demands, but Pelosi and Schumer insisted that border wall funding is not on the table.

Following the meeting, Pelosi and Schumer described the session as “contentious,” and said President Trump told them he was prepared to keep the government partially closed for months or years.

“Absolutely I said that. I don’t think it will, but I’m prepared,” Trump confirmed later in a Rose Garden press conference.

The President also maintained that the meeting was “productive” and that negotiations would continue into the weekend.

A group of administration officials, including Vice President Mike Pence, DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, and Jared Kushner, were chosen by Trump to meet with top-level Democratic and GOP lawmakers for talks over the weekend.

Trump also asserted during the press conference that he had the power to get a border wall built without congressional approval by declaring a national emergency, but said he prefers “a negotiated process.”

“Absolutely, we could call a national emergency because of the security of our country. We may call a national emergency and do it very quickly,” Trump said.

Yesterday, the House passed a spending bill to fund the currently-shuttered portions of the government through September 2019, and the Department of Homeland Security until February 8, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., insists that any compromise will need to carry the endorsement of President Trump before McConnell brings it up for a vote in the Senate.

In a hallway interview yesterday, McConnell said that he hasn’t been sidelined during the negotiations, but at the same time doesn’t see a role for himself with the current set-up because the Senate GOP needs Trump’s approval, votes from some Senate Democrats, and Pelosi’s support in the Democratic-controlled House on legislation to end the shutdown.

“It’s just that there’s no particular role for me when you have this setup,” McConnell said.

The partial shutdown likely will continue into next week as the House and Senate adjourned Friday, with plans to come back into session on Tuesday.

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